Oh how my grand-dragon has grown!
Chris and I have a new daughter 🙂 In a recent post I wrote about how our son and now-daughter-in-law were eloping, and what a celebration it was! Sunday, July 14, 2019, found Chris having one last Ponderosa luncheon with Mom while I finished work then we hit the road for Utah, planning to make it from northern NY to Utah by Wednesday. But that was not to be.
Since I missed the meal at the steakhouse, Chris BBQ-d some steak for me the day before traveling, and I think that is what gave us the energy to drive all night and half the next day. We stopped at a hotel for one solid night of sleep and arrived at our new Utah residence mid-day on Tuesday. Thank goodness! There was a bunch of fun work to do!
We greeted our kiddos and gran-nagerie then started packing, prepping and picking up family members from airports. Thursday the 17th found us packed into the car on our way to Moab for the festivities. Unknown to Zeb and Bri, we had a certain Hudi in the car.
The wedding was so sudden our chef son Hudi was told he couldn’t get off because it was a super busy weekend at the country club where he works. It would have been the first time all eight of us (Chris and me, our sons and the women in their lives) had gotten together since CJ and Lauren’s wedding almost three years ago.
That was the last Zeb had heard, and it was sad, but he understood. But unbeknownst to Zeb, Hudi’s boss and colleagues awesomely made it possible for him to travel. When we got to the campsite, we left Hudi off at the washroom before we greeted Zeb and Bri, who were already there. Then Hudi appeared as if he were a stranger asking for directions 🙂
One thing we did know. The weather was going to be hot!!
We set up tents and hung out and relaxed a bunch. Then we headed up the rocks to catch the sunset. Breathtaking!!! If you click on an image in this mosaic, it will let you scroll through the images individually if you prefer that.
We were all a bit tired so we talked a while after sunset then went to our tents.
Friday morning we woke up early, but one can’t complain when you wake up to a view like this:
On Friday, others started to arrive. Bri, Mollie, and I headed out for the three-hour drive to to nearest airport to pick up Bri’s mom and sister. We stopped for a nice brunch before heading back to the campsite.
When we got to the campsite again, we saw Chris had gotten creative with his artistic tendencies as he found a heart rock and created a rock lizard.
Bri was smart and brought along some aloe in case anyone got scratched up. How thoughtful is that?
We relaxed, talked and played games in the heat of the day.
As the sun started dipping, we separated males and females for bridal shower time. The women did facials and gave each other manicures while the guys yakked. For the record, the men were invited to do facials and/or have their nails done, too, but none took us up on the offer.
During this shower time, Bri’s mom set up the gift cake she had created. Isn’t it amazing? She is so talented with creativity!
The sun set, and those who were staying at the closest hotels (over an hour away) hit the road. Poor Lauren and CJ missed the time as they dealt with work deadlines, flat tires and other details. They pulled in right after the hotel people left. Ah well. Some climbed the rocks to see the next sunset while more guests arrived. Lauren was right up there, climbing the rocks. That girl is seriously hard core, doing that while eight months pregnant after a five-hour drive at the end of a workday! Amazing and inspirational.
The solar lights kicked on and looked like stars leading a path to the fire and hangout area.
I don’t have pictures, but we had a s’mores bar by the fire.
While we were eating the chocolate and marshmallow treats, we saw shooting stars. Some noticed Hudi and Mollie disappear up the rocks toward the celestial display, but most did not know at the time that they were off to spend time together, and when they came back to us, they emerged as a newly engaged couple 🙂 Talk about celebration!!!
Fun fact – Bri and Zeb got engaged at CJ and Lauren’s wedding. This tradition was actually a bit of an accident. Hudi was proposing since it was a dating anniversary. He didn’t realize he was extending the tradition initially, but it was kinda awesome.
Finally it was time for the big day. I don’t think Bri slept at all. I know she was up and about with makeup on when I got up around 5 am on Saturday July 20, 2019. Mollie, Lauren and I helped Bri get dressed so they could go up on the rocks for sunrise pictures.
Here are the bride and groom pre-sunrise.
While they were taking pictures, we were finalizing details and relaxing.
There were so many little details that made it feel super special. The cloth napkins, the little jars of rock with name tags for seating, the rock candy (since we were camping among the rocks) and the monkey bread made by the bride herself and brought on the trip so people would have a treat.
Then it was time for the less-than-four-minute ceremony. The invitation was really funny. We were all told to dress in desert formal or basically whatever we wanted to wear to not die of heat stroke. Haha. It was awesome.
Although they wrote vows for each other, they shared those privately and chose different ones for the actual ceremony. The officiate was Zeb’s roommate from college, and the music was played off a phone so we wouldn’t disturb surrounding campers. It was short, sweet, and full of love. Beautiful. Their dog was the ring bearer 🙂
After the vows, the photographer took group pictures. Back at CJ and Lauren’s wedding, I allowed myself to relax and let the photographer do the job, catching the good images. It was a friend of theirs who gave them a good deal as a wedding gift. I regret my decision there. The person hired never gave them the images (just a couple of photos). (Side note – if you have pics of CJ and Lauren’s wedding that you have not shared with us yet and are willing to share, can you please let me know?)
So this time I took a few of my own even though this photographer seems a lot more professional. Here are a couple of the images.
We all sat down to eat at the pretty tables. The meal consisted of a Bagel Bar, a Bloody Mary Bar (Bri’s dad makes a beautiful and tasty drink), a Trail Mix Bar, yogurt and monkey bread. The cake was decorated with fondant succulents that Bri and I made. It was all so perfect. Although Ophelia (the dog) did party a bit too hard (just kidding. She was smart enough to sleep all day in the 100+F degree heat then perked up at night).
I also grabbed a picture of Bri’s shoes. Mollie got them for her, and I think they are so pretty.
After the brunch, some travelers left to go home while everyone else aside from Chris and myself took off to go Paddle Boarding. We also shared a slideshow highlighting Zeb and Bri’s growing-up years and life together.
Although the wedding was deep in the heart of Moab, an hour’s drive off the main road and deep into no-cell-service-land, we still managed to have a few wedding crashers. One was a lovely woman from New Jersey who asked if she could camp by us since she wasn’t comfortable camping in a more isolated area. She only stayed one night, though.
Another was a bold squirrel who later brought out a companion. Needless to say, we didn’t really partake of the trail mix bar after seeing that 🙂
Look carefully at these images (you might want to click them to see them larger), and you will see a squirrel going: on the wooden tie, on the bench, peeking over the table, on the table, nearing the bowl, in the bowl, eating from the bowl, tipping the bowl, playing in the bowl then acting totally busted.
While the others were gone, and Chris and I were cleaning up camp, we also had a snake come to visit. It didn’t look poisonous or anything, but it was definitely a long one.
We also had a spider almost the size of my fist in our tent. Chris released it into the sand, and it camouflaged so well that the image I took of it didn’t really work. I couldn’t find it in the image when I went to add it to this post. All I saw was sand.
Finally, we were literally swarmed with bees. If you click the video, you can hear them buzzing. They were friendly bees, not really out to sting, but were a bit annoying. Fortunately they were only out for an hour or so at the beginning and end of the days.
Chris and I were amazed as we sat and watched the sunset. Suddenly the bees started to leave in groups of three or four, heading off to the northwest. So fascinating. It was as if they received a call. I wonder if they sensed the bats were coming out and decided to vacate? I don’t know.
Everyone was pretty exhausted that evening, and we went to bed early. We left at 6:30 the next morning to take Hudi back to the airport while Zeb, Bri and her family stayed on for another day of camping and exploring before going home to get their wedding ring tattoos and settling back into reality.
It was an amazing elopement and beautiful in so many ways. We are very thankful to now have a wonderful new daughter as well. Love you, Bri, and blessings on your marriage, Zeb and Bri. May your life be as radiant as the wedding memories.
If you want to hear “their song” check out:
We had a bad thing turn turn into a blessing the day before Easter this year. Let me rewind a bit. Last March Chris and I got an Air B&B place so we could stay near Lauren and CJ for a bit when our grandchild was born in early August. It was ideal. — only a five-minute drive and a half-hour walk from the young adults (and Zeb and Bri). It had two bedrooms so other guests could stay with us, too. Lovely.
We paid for it and happily moved on until we got an email the day before Easter. The hosts cancelled on us, and the only local options now available were quite a bit more expensive. I was quite stressed, but by Easter morning had realized that it was a first world issue.
1. We didn’t need to stay as long.
2. We could stay in housing for about the same original price if we drove 20 minutes – not ideal but doable.
3. We were lucky our work schedules allowed us to go at all.
Then we heard back from a place I petitioned (from a Facebook Marketplace listing Lauren found on that Saturday), and long story short, we got a place with a guest room just a few houses away from the kiddos for an even more affordable price than the original housing situation. This one even came with a BBQ, deck, Jacuzzi and two mountain bikes 🙂
The woman who owns the place wrote me a message saying: I felt it all out and it felt good for me to pick you. This apartment has a story, it was never to be a business just to help out friends and family. I totally do it by feel. I just felt you needed it.
She also said we could come whenever we wanted since nobody knows when babies happen. Little did we know at the time, but we wouldn’t be coming early for the baby, but we would be early for the wedding of our middle son 🙂
I asked for more time and inquired about pricing for the extended stay. It was suggested I quote a price, which I did, and the couple counter-offered my suggestion with an even lower amount! Who does that in this day and age? Amazing people. That’s who.
Then I realized I messed up the date of the wedding and had to write again to see if we could come a day earlier. This made me cringe. One of my biggest frustrations in life is dealing with people who push and push to get just a little more… and here I was, becoming my own nightmare.
When I got a response, it started with, “At this point…” and my heart sank. I thought I ruined all the communications and abused the kindness. Then I read on. The full response was:
At this point I feel fine with you staying as long as you want between the 1st of July to Sept. 4th. With out me charging you anymore.
Say what?!?!?! I had to read that a few times. And my heart was so full.
This felt like a good story to share since it’s a reminder that there truly are good people in this world. People who go out of their way to help others. And sometimes when we think terrible events are happening, something amazing can be right around the corner. What a miracle this turned out to be for us. I’m so thankful.
Chris and I are invited to an elopement! (YAY!!!) And yes, you read that correctly. Our son Zebulon is tying the knot with the beautiful Bri in a couple of weeks. They are eloping. And we couldn’t be happier.
I am throwing random images from the engagement photo sessions in this post because I love them.
In fact, I had narrowed it down to a mere 18 of my favorites, but sliced it to six for the post. That was brutal on my end. Please appreciate that 🙂
Apparently an elopement today is not what it used to be. Chris and I were discussing it with friends, and of course I had to Google it. According to Merriam-Webster we now have a “Changing Meaning of ‘Elopement.’ “
Our kids are so current.
That entire article is an engaging read, but I particularly liked the quote:
The earliest sense of elope was “escape” or “flee,” and one might argue that this is somehow connected to the way people are now sometimes using it in the context of weddings. Except that this definition does not mean “escape” as in “let’s escape from it all,” but rather “let’s grab the keys from the orderly and make a break for it!”https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/read-this-before-you-elope
I’m super proud of these delightful young people. Bri went to college in the town we lived so we’ve known her for a bunch of years now. She and Zeb have had many grand adventures together. It’s been a real gift to see them both grow so much through it all.
Many of you know that they got engaged right after CJ and Lauren’s wedding.
They were supposed to get married last summer, then after the invitations were out, they realized they weren’t ready and canceled the wedding.
I have serious respect for that.
Marriage is an amazing thing that should be taken seriously. The breakup wasn’t pretty. Because life is like that sometimes. However, after a few months apart they decided that they don’t ever want to be apart again. How beautiful is that? They also realized that going forward, they should attack life together in their own style. Hence the small wedding in one of their favorite places.
We will be camping out with close family and friends the night before the wedding, and they will have the ceremony in the morning before it gets too hot. The afternoon will be spent hiking and paddle-boarding.
Unlike CJ’s and Lauren’s wedding, we won’t be live-streaming the occasion. There will be no Internet. How freeing that is in a way!!! Both options have benefits.
But I’m sure I will collect images to share after.
We head out in a little under two weeks for the occasion. I am seriously looking forward to it.
PS. I get another daughter 🙂 🙂 🙂 and she is totally awesome!
How was it only a year ago that Zeb was still living with us, and we were toasting his 21st b-day?
Talk about a year of change. New home (several of those), new job, new friends, new adventures, and still the same passionate heart.
As we watch you take your steps into adulthood, fixing appliances and purchasing furniture and a car, etc. it flashes us back to the first steps you took back in the day. Little did we know all the places those tiny feet would go.
We are so proud of all you have accomplished this year, Zebulon, and for the way you have tackled obstacles in your path. Hope you have a truly fabulous upcoming year. We love you and thank God you were placed in our family.
I’m recently left Utah, after a visit with 4/6 of my “children” ( 3 sons and their amazing women in total), and this poem could not be more applicable. The memories of the moments and feelings I now embrace will help me through dark moments of my future life. I am so thankful.
How I wish I could share with you, beyond words, the feeling of peace and warmth emanating from the fire before me as the open door to my right brings fresh air and the beauty of snowy mountains (when I wrote this, a few days ago).
If I should disappear from the earth today, it would be okay. My kids are thriving. God’s in His heaven, and all is right with the world.
P.S. What’s with all the guys and their “hands in pocket” poses? Like father, like sons. 😉
Day 30/30 – On this final day of the month of November, I am reminiscing and am thankful for our travels. This year Chris and I said we wanted to travel to 25 places in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. This left us with lots of happy memories I’m so thankful for. I will do a full writeup at some point on my other site, but for now here are some of my favorite memories:
- For November (the month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US), I’m trying to blog about something for which I’m thankful for each day of the month.
Our final full day in Utah was spent on the ski/snowboard slopes at Snowbird. Yes, it was June 10. Let me say that again. June 10. And we were at the slopes. Can you feel hear my heart beating faster? Oh the joy of that day!
The altitude got to Chris a bit (on his fourth run of the day), and he was pretty wiped out after a mogul run 🙂
Lauren and I enjoyed the festival below as the guys boarded and skied.
We wrapped up a perfect day by heading back home and having a lovely dinner out. On the way home we saw a mini-cyclone. Since it didn’t seem to hurt anyone, we thought it was pretty cool. Later that evening we were treated to a view of the strawberry moon rising. So beautiful!
Sunday morning was sad. Don’t be fooled by those smiles in the pics. It was super hard saying goodbye to this incredible couple. We miss them so much already. That entire visit was a gift beyond words.
On Sunday, as we drove, I was forced to admit that if I ever do this trip again, I won’t even attempt to work in the car in Wyoming or Nebraska. The Internet was super sketchy–even with Cricket and Verizon hotspots. Thank goodness for good hotel wi-fi’s and a job with flexible work hours!
Sunday night was spent at a hotel in Nebraska — at a hotel that I will be fine never visiting again. Good news though. If you ever forget your key there, you can get into your room in less than half a second with a credit card 🙂
Monday found us spinning the tires towards friends/co-workers in Missouri. While the day started out nice and sunny, it changed. We didn’t experience any of the tornadoes that were appearing around the country that day (for which we were thankful), but driving was a bit tricky at times, and the hail was pretty loud.
In the evening we made it to the home of the Jason and Kristen Snow. They are my co-workers, so many of you might have already met them if you have an upgrade and have used the WordPress live chat options. They also have a fabulous blog. They are nomads so we were lucky to catch them home. In fact, they left shortly after we did for their next Grand Adventure. How we love these two and their three dogs!
I’ve been told by many people in my life that they have never seen people like us. We work super hard then we stop on a dime and play hard. It’s all about balance. My co-workers seem to live by this standard as well.
We relaxed for an evening, slept, then all hit our work super hard for a full day. Barely a sound was heard as Chris did his art, I worked on mobile support for WordPress apps, and Jason and Kristen had meetings and worked on live chat and email support. One of their dogs cuddled close to give me moral support, and I loved it.
The company we work for is distributed, so the hundreds of workers at Automattic work all around the world, anywhere there is Internet. That is how I can literally work on the road as Chris drives. As long as I have Internet connection.
We get together with co-workers a few times a year (hence the Lisbon meetup I still haven’t written about, but I will. At least you know I was in Lisbon for that reason by this point if you follow the blog). But it’s a real treat to work alongside co-workers live in a small-group situation. Many peoples’ norm. Our anomaly. And we learn so much from each other. Very fun day.
Once the work time was over, we took the dogs for a walk to a family/dog-friendly brewery in the area. Talk about delightful! It was hard picking the perfect brew so we all got different flavors and shared sips.
I think my favorite story about this place is that they really celebrate mother’s and have a special day for moms every year. But they have that special day after Mother’s Day so there is no conflict with family celebrations. Love that!
One of the Snow’s dogs was interested in watching children play, another was resting, and the third spent its time eeking up on the bench and as close to Jason as possible. This cracked me up so I made an animation (staying away from the word gif on purpose to avoid controversy). Is this the sweetest thing or what?
Seriously. Just look at the love. Heart melt!
We spent the evening at a burger joint that still has me salivating. But I forgot to take images. On the walk back home, we humored Chris by going on Rte 66. As the song says:
Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66…
The next morning we rose relatively early and went to a fantastic coffee shop before leaving. This place has bands and church services at times, I hear, and it also has the best muffins I have ever eaten. Can’t believe I didn’t take a pic. I’m seriously slacking on my job.
Our plan was to drive to Columbus and spend the night. We drove through some hairy weather again, saw a massive fire (I’m guessing from some of the super-scary lighting we saw), but pushed on through to get to Houghton because our car was making some interesting noises.
Remember how we were worried about its making it through the trip? Yeah. We remembered that, too. We churned into Houghton at 3 am ET after 16 hrs of driving (Chris totally rocks. I was working about 9 hrs of it. He did all the driving). After sleeping a few hrs, we crept off to our home in northern NY. And made it!!!!
Back to Mom, my lack-of-beach, and local rainbows.
Now we are closing the chapter on the out-west trip for the year and starting to plan our next life adventures. Starting with a new-to-us car hunt. Anyone have a Honda Fit and/or Chrysler Town and Country you are trying to get rid of? You know how to reach me…. 😉